RACE Profile: Almost No elevation, great trails with some loose sand and creek crossings-->3 loops of 10.5 miles each
Wow. Wowie. WOWZAS. What a day Saturday was!
How does one remember what happened across 36 miles?...not me but I'm going to do the best I can. I know yall don't want to be reading all day either, so I'll keep this as short as I can ;)
When I was reading my splits to Tanner, he was like "OH MY GOSH THAT'S SO MANY SPLITS!" hahaha! Yea I KNOW! I never EVER EVER imagined that my little leggies could take me 36 miles and when I woke up Saturday morning, I really had no idea what was in store. I never got nervous once leading up to it...like not even at the start line. I did that thing I always talk about. I just didn't think about it. Tanner would be like "How ya feeling?" and I'm just like "Ah..well..haven't thought about it. I'm sure I'll make it to the end eventually" HAHA!
My pre race meal is EMBARASSING yall (and hilarious). We got to the town the race was in and didn't look it up. It was 8pm and I was like OMG WE HAVE TO EAT DINNER. The only thing in that town (we would have had to drive 30 min away) was freakin fast food so Bojangles chicken supreme combo was my great pre race nutrition. LOL!! IT WAS GOOD DOE. I ate really well the entire rest of the day but just 100% whole foods and carbs only. Two days before a race, I never even think about protein and try to keep fat grams down. If you just straight eat whatever, you'll end up with a lot of fat grams so I try to eat all carb (smoothies, bagels, english muffins, pasta, beans, potatoes, oats, mashed potatoes (ha), fruit, granola, froyo, etc).
I talked to Tanner on the way...I would start with a 9 min mile then see how I felt. Why do I never listen to my plan? OH well. It worked out.
The race started. I like IMMEDIATELY moved to second place in the pack. It separated quickly. The guy in front of me runs a 2:42 marathon. At mile 3, we took a wrong turn that we thought the signs were telling us to do and ended up 0.5 mile (approximately) extra with that. I was so grumpy about that which is HILARIOUS knowing what was to come.
We caught back up with the group and passed them again. I felt amazing. I didn't look at my watch but when I looked down with the beep, it said 7:37 for one of those miles...ON TRAILS. I was like WOAHHHH. Slow ya roll girlfriend. Did I slow that roll? OF COURSE NOT.
[[I will go ahead and say I was thinking 'I'm totally going to bonk at the end of this with these splits...I'm gonna die a slow and painful death at mile 20..AND I NEVER DID. That's what I always tell Tanner when he gets mad at me for going fast. MIGHT AS WELL TRY because maybe you won't bonk and then you PR!!! lol!!!]]
Mile 4ish I think, Josh caught up with us. He is an amazing person who got me through parts of this race. He has lost 220lbs and is now a plant based ultrarunner and has been on Rich Roll's podcast. Here's his blog. Yall will love it! Miles 5-11, we all hung out (Josh, me and Sean)! Sean and Josh were the first and second place finishers. We all told our stories and kind of what led us to that point, and I tried to ask them questions about ultras and how to handle miles 26+.
[[SPLITS FOR MILES 1-11--> 8:07, 8:02, 7:43, 7:47, 8:01, 7:59, 7:53, 7:57, 7:43, 7:37, 7:54]]
It's a loop course so at 10.5-11, we got back to the start. They both sat down to take fluids and food. I don't like to sit so I kept going. Sean caught back up to me soon after and went out ahead. We had all decided to split up at that point. Tanner took off with me for two miles. That was so nice and I loved just getting to spend a little time with him. It was good to be with him on those splits to slow me down a little and regroup. At mile 12-13, he turned around to run that 2 back and .... then it began. I feel really silly but the signs were little, I look down while I run and being alone running is just a bad combo for me in terms of directions, and my internal compass literally does not exist. I was fine for a while though, and I felt so great. There was an aid station at mile 2.5 and 8 because the course was like a loop inside of a loop so you passed the same one twice (so there was really only one aid station that you hit up twice). Tanner made me promise to stop on the way back (mile 18ish). I had taken a gu while we were together and during my first lap.
When Tanner and I split up, I easily started cruising in the 7:50's range again. It was like time was whizzing by and I couldn't believe I had ran so far. My legs didn't hurt. My breathing wasn't labored. I was lapping people on the course who I think really thought I was actually crazy because they knew that meant I was returning on my second loop. I thought to myself how I knew I would hit a wall at mile 20. I just was preparing myself mentally for that. I can't remember what I thought about...pretty much nothing (except those times I got lost). Like I legit don't remember having one thought during that 5 hours....? I always say I think the trauma represses my memory or something. LOL! Like who doesn't think to themselves for 5 hours? Anyway...
I came to a fork in the road. I knew I'd been there before, and it was a tall corn field. I stopped. I went back and looked at the little sign that was right before that. It had a straight arrow but it was kinda like curved. Just like on many tests I've taken, I had it down to 50/50 ......... AND I CHOOSE THE WRONG ONE! lolol! I went straight. I was supposed to go left. The trails on this course are beautiful and perfect so therefore when I'm off, it's hard to even know because it's not like you can tell by where people have been. I was alone on the course anyway at that point because I was ahead by so much. I was second overall at this point (18-19 miles in).
That took me on a loop that was about 3 miles extra. I didn't know what to do. I knew I was lost after about a mile and all I knew to do was to keep running in the direction that I was and hopefully eventually I would run into something that would guide me back. I saw people to my left and so I just started running back that direction. I.WAS.SO.UPSET.AND.MAD.AT.MYSELF.
How could I be doing so well and do something so silly? At the time, I didn't even realize where I had gone wrong. I was just so confused because I though the arrow was pointed straight and I went straight. Where did I mess up? I didn't understand. I asked a few people what mile they were on and they said they were with the 10 miler. I was just trying to get a gauge for how far I was from the aid station because at this point, I knew I REALLY needed something. I felt fine and wasn't foggy headed but I just knew it would happen if I didn't. We were past that though and I didn't realize it. I honestly wasn't even emotional at this point. I was just like "well shoot!" because I had half of a brain to think at those miles. haha!
I asked the girl how far the aid station was, and they had already passed it so I guess that's what she thought I meant so she said "probably a mile and a half" meaning we were on our way back. At this point, I was around 23ish miles and I should have been done with the second loop by that point so I was like WHAT IS GOING ON!?
We got closer. I realized the aid station was in fact BEHIND me, but close enough to the second loop that I'd just get stuff from Tanner. When I hit that second loop, I was at 24 miles (should have been 21), I was SO upset and to be fair and honest... mad. I didn't have enough glycogen to think straight so I was mean. LOL!!! Tanner was trying to force me to take salt tablets, drink this and that and I was just in tears. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and just wanted to start running again. I told him I was just going to run the 7, take a DQ because I knew that's what they would do and told him that I knew mentally there was no way I could run that many extra miles....dun dun dun. He sweetly tried to convince me to just walk to finish it.
[[SPLITS FOR MILES 12-24--> 8:44, 8:15, 8:15 (3ish when T was with me), 7:52, 7:49, 7:45, 7:50,7:51, 7:54, 8:17(lost), 9:13(lost), 8:56(lost), 8:47]]
The whole 24-28, I was in my head so much like "I'll just turn around to make it an even 31. That's what is fair because that's what I came here to do. No, Katie, do the loop. That's like cheating. But it's not cheating because I AM running the 31 miles. No, Katie, that's cheating. I'll turn around to make it an even 31 and then I'll tell Tomas, the race director, that I can't accept first place because I didn't complete the final loop. Maybe he'll be nice and say he understands. No, he won't. I'll be disqualified."
I literally went back and forth and back and forth.
My watch hit 26.2 miles and I couldn't help but look down. I was at 3:25. I had qualified for Boston on a trail. That was a really cool moment to continue to pick one more foot up and know I wasn't even close. Wow. What a moment.
I ran into Josh again at mile 28. I should have been ahead of him but because I went that extra loop, he was FAR in front of me. This just made me SUPER emotional seeing that he was on his way back into the home stretch and I was on my way out still. I told him I was going to turn around. He was like NO YOU ARE NOT. YOU KEEP GOING. YOU COMPLETE THIS. I started crying and he just like pulled me in and let me cry. In all honesty, looking back, it's not THAT serious but at those high miles, I got dramatic. But, as I type this, I feel like the biggest drama queen ever. LOL!! It was my first ultra and while I had heard that people get turned around on ultras a lot, I just assumed it wouldn't happen to me. Josh told me that it would make me a true ultrarunner by finishing what I came out here to do and that I could still pull out first place women overall and would do it with 3 extra miles (I haven't gotten to the final 2 yet HA).
[[SPLITS 25-29--> 10:13 (had a side stitch lol), 9:54, 9:35, 9:31, 10:13]]
I told Josh that I couldn't promise I was going to take his advice and that I might turn right back around soon after. But, when he ran off, I got a second/third wind and thought "YES KATIE YOU DO THIS!! YOU COMPLETE THIS!" At the time, I thought that would put me at around 34 miles which still sucked but I was going to complete the loop and I continued forward. I had decided since word 1 that I would go by effort the entire race so I knew my pace was slowing down into the 9's but it didn't bother me. I had already run 30 freakin miles at that point. Who cared? NOT I! I continued forward, and kept running and running and running.
At around mile 31 (and thinking I was well on my way back into the home stretch), I suddenly was IN A FREAKING NEIGHBORHOOD. I kid you not guys. There was a house to my left. I literally bent over, face into my knees and started sobbing. Balling. Sobbing. "GET YOURSELF TOGETHER KATIE. WHERE AM I? I'M SCARED. I don't have my phone. Maybe I should knock on this door. How did I miss a turn? UHHHHH HOW ARE YOU SO STUPID KATIE?!!?"
[[SPLITS MILE 30-32--> 9:02, 9:23, 9:35]]
Inside my head: "Okay, breathe. You can't run if you can't breathe. Turn around. Find where you missed something. You'll find a sign." I started semi sprinting back (because I was scared that I was lost), I hit 31 miles...."the finish line." The time was 4:22:17. I was supposed to be done, and I was lost in the middle of the woods. Wow. "I'll never do this again. I'm not made out for woods. I don't do well with only tiny baby signs and no one in front of me." (of course I'm over that now just fyi)
It was a straight path back and as I was running, I saw two men take a turn. In those moments, it just felt really good to know I wasn't completely lost and had gone about a mile out (so making 2 extra miles with the turn around). I knew where I had missed the sign. The signs were little pieces of wood in the ground that were probably about the size of two index carbs stacked on top of each other. I look down when I'm running on trails so I don't break my ankle so of course I miss them. That's no one's fault but my own though and I realize that.
For some reason, I still thought I was 2 miles from the end. I think back to the thoughts I was having about distance and where I was, and yall, what in the stinkin world? I clearly needed glucose. It makes no sense and was just getting me more upset because I kept thinking I was close to the end when I wasn't. I was running on this straight away and passed a bunch of people again (I hadn't even had food again this lap-I didn't even care nor had I even thought about fueling-I didn't bonk-I just was laser focused on finishing and I was going faster to finish because I just wanted to be done). I asked them how far we were from the finish and they said 4 miles. I was like NO WAIT WHAT? HOW ARE WE STILL FOUR MILES OUT? I'M AT 32 MILES RIGHT NOW!!!!! I was delusional. Of course I was 4 miles out if I had added up all the times I was off, but in those moments that made no sense to me and I thought "this is just straight awful"
[[SPLITS MILE 33-36--> 9:34, 9:26, 9:46,10]]
It's funny though because I've realized now that you have extra gears after a marathon. You just never work them. If you tell your mind to keep going, it just keeps going. It was cool to see that in action. I'm a little ashamed of my thoughts in that moment but I'm going to tell you:
"I'm not running again for a long time after today. I'm not going to do the ironman. I'm just going to be normal and maybe I'm just not made for epic things. I can't even do them right. I just get lost. This is silly and I'm just not cut out for all of this."
This race was not fancy butterflies, fight to the finish boston marathon style. This was different. This was just REALLY REALLY hard. I pulled away from those people quickly (this was the crew that had the second place female finisher in it who is seriously the sweetest EVER and I loved getting to know her after the race). I still felt great (my hips and glutes were tight but felt really strong-insert plug for heavy lifting because it STRAIGHT UP is the reason I got through that race feeling the way I did).
I questioned every single step. Was I lost again? I don't even know anymore. I'm just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. No thoughts other than finishing. Time stood still it felt like. I had a serious "I'm lost again moment" and let me tell you my thoughts because 32+ mile delirium is HILARIOUS thinking back.
"I'll just be one of those stories. I'm going to just lay right here in the grass and they won't find me for days. I'll be glycogen depleted, dehydrated and starved and maybe I'll even just die out here. But if I'm lost, I'm just going to lay right here until I'm found. Tanner will be so devastated when I don't come back for hours. I wonder if he'll be okay."
HAHAHA!! What in the world? That's just hilarious to me now that my brain works.
I wasn't even lost is the funny part. All of a sudden I see a guy in a grey shirt running towards me. I thought "Oh thank goodness. I'm not lost. This is someone coming out for their third loop so I'm finally like 2ish miles from the finish. PRAISE YOU JESUS I'M NOT LOST."
Then, this guy starts doing this wave and I can hear his voice. OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS THAT'S TANNER!!!! He says that when he saw me, he just assumed that I had been running and crying the whole way at this point. I was like NO CRAZY MAN, I STARTED CRYING WHEN I SAW YOU.
He started yelling "I'm so proud of you. You never give up. I'm so so proud of you. You're so close to the finish. I'll just talk. You just keep moving. Do you want to walk? Do you need water?"
No. No. No. I don't want to talk, drink, eat, or walk. I just want to shuffle step until I get to the end of this. I tell him I got lost again and he said he knew I had because of the time which is why he came out looking for me again. He said he had prayed that I would just walk if I had to but that I would not give up.
We round the corner where you can see the end in sight but you still have 0.75 mile to go. He told me he was going to split off to get a picture at the finish line and for me to reflect on this and what I had just done and to be so proud of myself. I tried so hard. The finish line seemed to stretch into oblivion that I would never reach but I just kept putting one foot, one foot, one foot. Shuffle shuffle. That's all it takes.
I rounded the FINAL corner and was 0.1 from the finish line. Everyone was clapping and I have never been so happy in my life. I had done it. I was still the first place female, I had finished with 36 miles (35.5 per my watch-I actually accidentally hit stop on the final stretch which is why I say 36 when my watch says 35.5-of course I would). I was an ultrarunner. Forever. Nothing can EVER take that moment away and it will be sealed in my memory forever. Not only had I completed a 50k but I had done 5 miles extra. I had just run 36 miles. HOLY STINKIN COW! And the crazy part-I FELT GOOD! I wasn't dying. I wasn't really even emotional at this point. I honestly was just proud of myself....really really proud of myself.
Not to leave a cliff hanger, but I'll pick up at this point for tomorrow's blog (including more nutrition stuff and post race recovery). This recap has been long enough with all it's un necessary drama!! I'm forever changed, and that's a fact. When people ask me about it, it's hard to explain my emotion. I always feel as if people in my real life will think I'm so crazy so I try my best to not even talk about it. I went to church yesterday and potluck for our pastor and when people bring it up, it's hard to really even put into words what I had just done the day before. So, I just say it went well and I'm happy. Of course they are always like "HOW ARE YOU STILL WALKING OMG WHY ARE YOU HERE?!" hahaha!!
My love for running is like no other. I never thought I'd find something in life that truly makes me so passionate. I never knew up until a few years ago that there was this thing that I was going to find that was going to mean so very much to me. It's really cool to be able to do something like that every day, and I never plan on stopping.
As always yall, life without limits. I'm not special. I'm not extraordinary. One foot. In front of the other. You can do absolutely anything you set your mind to and never let anyone tell you otherwise.